Responding to Name & Focus

Teach your dog to pay attenion and focus on you when they hear their name.

Focus Game

This game is easy to set up at home and teaches your dog to focus on you even if there are distractions. You will need an item that your dog is interested in but doesn't make them overly excited. You can play this game using a different item each time, gradually increasing the difficulty. I recommend working with an easy, boring object first such as a glove, progressing to a toy that your dog isn't that interested in and then a toy that they find exciting.

 

Step 1: Have your dog on lead and in a low distraction environment.

 

Step 2: Warm up your dog's brain by calling their name, then praising when they give you eye contact and dropping a treat on the floor. Repeat this sequence until your dog won't take their eyes off you.

 

Step 3: Hold your chosen item out at arm's length, shoulder height to your side. The idea is that your dog will be distracted by the item and look at it. If they are not distracted by it use something more interesting. If they are too excited and persistently jump up at it, use something less interesting.

 

Step 4: With the item held out, don't say anything and wait for your dog to make eye contact with you. As soon as they do, praise well and feed a treat (you can bring your out-stretched arm back in). The first few times you practice this your dog may take a while to look at you, be patient and only call their name if you think they are stuck or getting frustrated. If your dog jumps up at the item ignore them, but make sure they never reach the item.

 

 

Tip: Restrict yourself to 10 - 20 treats so that the exercise doesn't go on for too long. Dogs learn best in short bursts. Try to fit training your dog in short bursts into your everyday routine, for example have a quick training session while you wait for the kettle to boil.

Below is a PDF exercise guide to download and keep.